AIC honors Burnaby Munson as chemical pioneer
Burnaby Munson
4:29 p.m., March 4, 2008--Burnaby Munson, C. Eugene Bennett Chair of Chemistry, has received recognition throughout his illustrious career for his research and teaching, both nationally and from UD. Most recently he has been named a 2008 Chemical Pioneer by the American Institute of Chemists (AIC).

The award will be given at the Chemical Heritage Foundation building in Philadelphia on May 16, at which time Munson will make a presentation on his research.

In an announcement of the award, Munson is cited by AIC for developing, with Frank Field, “the technique of chemical ionization mass spectrometry, CIMS--an analytical application of gas phase ion/molecule reactions at 'high' pressures (for mass spectrometry)--that is routinely used for characterization of organic compounds, particularly in conjunction with gas chromatography. Dr. Munson's research and that of his students has been on the thermochemistry, kinetics and analytical applications of gas phase ion/molecule reactions.”

Munson said he was pleased to receive the award. “I feel I am a pioneer in the field,” he said. “I published my first paper on mass spectrometry in 1962 and my first paper on chemical ionization in 1966, which was some time ago.”

He has reaped many honors for his research, including the Joe Franklin and Frank Field Award in Mass Spectrometry from the American Chemical Society, the American Society for Mass Spectrometry research award in 1996 and the Delaware Section of the American Chemical Society Award for scientific achievement in chemistry in 1992. He served as president of the American Society of Mass Spectrometry and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His research was the first cited by the Nobel committee in the award of the 2002 Nobel Prize to John Fenn and Koichi Tanaka.

In 2004, Munson and Jean Futrell, UD Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Biochemistry, were the first Americans to be honored for their scientific achievements by a special issue of the European Journal of Mass Spectrometry. As Futrell commented about his colleague, Munson has received all the major prizes a mass spectrometrist can win for his research.

Not only is Munson a pioneer in chemistry, he was a pioneer at UD, in helping to establish the University Honors Program in 1976, serving as both acting director and director. Among his honors at the University, Munson received the Medal of Distinction in 2002, which honors those who have achieved noteworthy success in their professions or have given significant service to the University, the state and region. He also received UD's Excellence in Teaching Award and in 1992 received UD's Francis Alison Award, the highest honor for faculty.

At the present time, Munson said his focus is on teaching. For many years, he has been known for his evening visits to residence halls with junk food and Gummi Bears. “I tell the students who are studying there, it's time for a break and some food, and then I get out of the way so that they can interact together,” he said.

Munson received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Texas and came to the University of Delaware in 1967 after working for Esso Research and Engineering Co.

Article by Sue Moncure
Photo by Kathy Atkinson